Nandrajog, Lakshya emerge champions

All smiles: Winners of the 5Sports Century Bengaluru Open Squash tournament in Bengaluru on Wednesday. STANDING: FROM LEFT: Jay Javeri (Partner, 5Sports), Ekam Singh (Boys, U-15), Navaneeth Prabhu S (Boys, U-17), Ravi Pai (MD, Century Real Estate), Gaurav

Gaurav Nandrajog and Lakshya Ragavendran clinched the men's and women's titles respectively in the 5sports Century Bangalore Club Open squash tournament here on Wednesday.

Delhi's Nandrajog turned back the clock to tame Tamil Nadu's Guhan Senthilkumar 14-12, 11-5, 11-7 in the men's final while Lakshya breezed past Aaradhana Kasturiraj 11-0, 11-4, 11-3 in the women's title round.

A decade ago, Nandrajog was one of the rising stars in the Indian squash but a string of injuries hampered his development. The recovery was gradual but effective, as he was back at his dominating best at this event. 

"Yes it was good," said Nandrajog. "I haven't recovered fully but I am looking forward to getting better."

The top seed took his time to settle down against Senthilkumar, who was breathing down his neck in the first game. The Tamil Nadu lad, down 1-3, rallied and went ahead 6-4 before Nandrajog began hitting cross court and kill shots to snatch the advantage (8-7). 

The youngster wasn't done yet as he pushed hard and won two back-to-back points to reclaim the lead (9-8). A couple of poorly placed shots brought Nandrajog back into the lead and he made it count by winning the game 14-12.

The Delhiite was at his devastating best in the second game. He unleashed a variety of strokes and raced to a 7-3 lead and then 9-4, before sealing the contest 11-5.

A brief fightback saw Senthilkumar cut the gap by one point (7-8) in the decider but the day wasn't his as the 34-year-old claimed the next three to seal the match.

Earlier, the 23-year-old Lakshya, back on the court after a long break, proved too good for Aaradhana of Tamil Nadu.

"I had taken a break. This is sort of a comeback tournament. I am not in the rankings now but I am looking forward to where I was," said Lakshya.

Leading 1-0 after cruising to an 11-0 win in the first game, Lakshya, en route victory in second, accidentally got hit in the forehead by Aaradhana's racquet after she came in the swinging range, bringing the game to a sudden halt, with scores reading 9-4.

Lakshya returned to the court four minutes later after getting treated by the medics. Visibly agitated, she took no time in securing the game. In the third, Lakshya returned to complete the formalities, winning the decider 11-3.

Results (prefix denotes seeding): All finals: Men: 1-Gaurav Nandrajog (DL) bt 3/4-Guhan Senthilkumar (TN) 14-12, 11-5, 11-7.

Boys: U-17: 3/4-Navaneeth Prabhu S (TN) bt 3/4-Lakshit Bohra (RJ) 13-11, 11-3, 8-11, 11-7.

U-15: 1-Ekam Singh (CH) bt 2-Kabir M D Rebello (HR) 11-7, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8.

U-13: 1-Arihant KS (TN) bt 2-Ayaan Vaziralli (MH) 10-12, 11-4, 11-4, 11-2.

U-11: 2-Rahul Sanjay Balakrishnan (KA) bt 3/4-Aryaveer Dewan (DL) 14-16, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3.

Women: Lakshya Ragavendran (TN) bt 3/4-Aaradhana Kasturiraj (TN) 11-0, 11-4, 11-3 .

Girls: U-17: 3/4-Avani Nagar (MH) bt 1-Megha Bhatia (DL) 11-5, 11-4, 11-7.

U-15: 1-Pooja Arthi R (TN) bt 5/8-Saniya Jaggi (MH) 11-3, 11-7, 11-3. 

U-13: Anahat Singh (DL) bt 1-Khushboo (UP) 11-1, 11-7, 11-4.

U-11: 1-Pia Singh (MH) bt 5/8-Anika Dubey (MH) 11-4, 11-5, 14-12.

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Nandrajog, Lakshya emerge champions

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